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Monday, September 27, 2010

My interview with Gin Blanco & Giveaway

I’m a bit nervous as I step into the Pork Pit but the smell of grease and spices in the air makes my belly rumble in hunger. I have a lunch date with Gin “The Spider” Blanco and I did not want to pass up on such an opportunity. I mean, how many gals like me get to ask an assassin some questions?

I walk to the bar, take a seat and patiently await Gin’s arrival/acknowledgement of me.

Gin looks up from the paperback book that she’s reading. She uses a credit card receipt to mark her place, then gets to her feet and walks toward me.

“What’ll it be?” she says, pulling an order pad and pen out of the back pocket of her jeans.

I glance at the menu, “I would love one of those famous BBQ beef sandwiches.” And my stomach growls in agreement.

As the order is being processed I look at Gin, “let’s start this interview then!”

Q 1: What can we know about Gin Blanco that doesn’t get us in to trouble?

Gin: *Snorts.* Please. Trouble is my middle name, sweetheart. But since you asked so nicely, I’ll tell you a little about myself.

Basically, I’ve spent most of my days walking through the shady side of life as the assassin known as the Spider. Yep, I was an assassin, someone who killed people for money – a lot of people for a lot of money. I did it to survive, mostly, and because it was something that I was good at.

A couple of months ago, though, I decided to retire from the life. So now, I spend my days running the Pork Pit and serving up the finest barbecue in Ashland and the rest of the South. That’s my day job.

At night, well, let’s just say that I haven’t put the Spider persona completely to rest just yet. I keep getting mixed up with these people – good, decent folks – who have problems that can only be solved by an assassin like the Spider.

So far, my retirement’s turning out to be just as dangerous as being an assassin full-time ever was. Helping folks who truly need it isn’t a bad way to pass the time, though – even if I usually end up bruised, broken, and bloody by the end of the night.

Q 2: The story of you so far, can you give us a brief overview “Gin style” for those who haven’t met you?

Gin: My name is Gin, and I kill people. That’s it in a nutshell. Oh, you want more info? Well, here’s the short version.

My family was brutually murdered by a Fire elemental when I was 13. I bummed around on the streets for a while before Fletcher Lane, the owner of the Pork Pit, took me in. Fletcher trained me to be an assassin and dubbed me the Spider. The old man was like the father that I never had, and I loved him dearly. But Fletcher was murdered not too long ago, right here in the Pork Pit. Of course, I took care of the Air elemental who killed him and the rest of her cronies – Spider style.

I also eliminated a greedy dwarven mine owner who was threatening one of Fletcher’s friends and his granddaughter.

More recently, I’ve learned who killed my family and the fact that my baby sister, Bria, is still alive. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do about either one of those situations, but one thing is for sure – someone’s going to die along the way.

Q 3: Gin Blanco on romance in her life? *Gin puts a plate in front of me with a hot, thick, juicy barbecue beef sandwich and a small bowl of baked beans. HHmmmm Gin, that’s a sneaky way to distract me from your love life. Jeez this food smells so good my mouth waters. I still need an answers though…

Gin: Let’s just say that I’m not as good at all the romantic stuff as I am at killing people. And I hate talking about my feelings.

Sometimes, I think about settling down – or at least finding a guy to have a little fun with. It’s hard to get serious with someone when you’re always coming over late at night with blood on your clothes.

I thought Detective Donovan Caine was a promising candidate, since we worked together and hooked up a few times, but the detective just couldn’t get over my past as an assassin. He let his morals and black-and-white code get in the way of what we could have had together. Yeah, I’m still pissed that he broke things off with me, especially since I was willing to give him a chance and he turned his back on me.

But there’s another guy circling around me – sexy businessman Owen Grayson. Owen’s made it clear that he wants me, but I’m not so sure that I want to start up something new with someone else. Even assassins need time to lick their wounds.

But Owen doesn’t seem like the type to give up easily ...

Q 4: What is the best and the worst of being a Stone and Ice elemental?

Gin: The best parts are the cool things that I can do with my magic, like using my Stone power to make my skin as hard as marble so nothing can hurt me. Or when I use my Ice magic to make small shapes, like lockpicks. Those come in real handy in my line of work.

The worst part is knowing that my magic isn’t full-proof and that it doesn’t make me invincible. That one day, I’m going to meet someone who’s elemental magic is stronger than mine – and that maybe she’ll get the best of me because of it.

Q 5: In extension of Q4, what other elementals are out there and what is it like to live in Ashland. I might one day think of moving here so inquiring minds want to know *smiles*

-I’m munching on a sandwich in the meantime and I need to control myself not to wolf it down. It’s that good *nom nom nom*-

Gin: Ashland is one of the dirtiest, violent, most corrupt cities that you could ever set foot in. Batman thinks he has it bad up there in Gotham. Heh. He needs to come down to Ashland sometime and get a gander at our criminals, yours truly included.

The city is divided into two sections – Northtown and Southtown. The poor, blue collar folks live in Southtown, along with the vampire hookers, their pimps, and junkies. Southtown is not the kind of place you want to visit – ever. As for Northtown, well, that’s where the rich folks live, but that doesn’t mean that part of Ashland is any less dangerous. In Northtown, people will call you sugar to your face before they stab you in the back.

Besides Stone and Ice, there are also Air and Fire elementals, as well as folks who can tap into offshoots of the four elements. For example, some people can manipulate metal, water, and electricity. Magic has many quirks, so there’s always someone with some new power popping up in town.

Q 6: Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Can you give us the 411 on Finnegan Lane, Owen Grayson and Detective Donavan Caine? I’m afraid us female readers have quite an interest in them *grin*

Gin: Well, Finn is the son of my handler Fletcher Lane. Finn is basically my foster brother. He also happens to be a greedy, womanizing investment banker who loves money and all the pretty things that he can buy with it. Naturally, the ladies all love Finn, and he loves them all right back.

Owen Grayson is a sexy businessman that I’ve recently become aquainted with. I don’t know too much about Owen yet, except that he has a strange interest in me – and that I’m attracted to him far more than I like.

As for Detective Donovan Caine, he was one of the few honest cops in Ashland. We worked together a few times, although our ideas of justice radically clashed. He liked putting people in jail, while I preferred burying them in the ground. Still, we had a few steamy encounters – before Donovan broke things off and left Ashland. Good riddance, I say. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself ...

Q 7: You were once an assassin freshman, what did your basic training entail? Was it a “wax on-wax off kind off” type of learning?

Gin: Fletcher Lane, the old man who was my handler, wasn’t much for wax-on, wax-off. Instead, I learned by doing. The old man taught me everything that he knew about being an assassin – how to fight, how to kill, and how to get away after the fact.

Q 8: What do you do to relax in your off time?

Gin: I like to cook, read, spend time with family and friends, and sharpen my silverstone knives when they need it. I’m a simple girl that way.

Q 9: I’m a total dessert girl in the kitchen but what is your favorite recipe to make?

Gin: I’m with you – I love a good dessert. One of my favorite recipes to make is a Chocolate Chip Pound Cake – it’s defiinitely a chocolate lover’s dream. One of my favorite recipes to eat is a Mountain Dew cake. It’s a sweet treat that uses Mountain Dew to give it even more of a sugar rush. You find both recipes here: http://www.jenniferestep.com/books-series/elemental-assassin-series/

Q 10: Do you think we can get a peek in to the super secret files of VENOM and have a small excerpt?

Gin: Sure.

Finn got to his feet, straightened his tie, smoothed down his walnut-colored hair, and stepped into the swirling crowd. He strutted toward the Ice bar, probably to ask the bartender about Xavier. His path took him close to the edge of the dance floor. The blond hooker he’d been eyeing blew Finn a kiss. He grinned and veered in her direction. Less than three minutes later, the two of them were ensconced at the bar, drinking martinis and making goo-goo eyes at each other.

I drummed my fingers on the tabletop. A pretty face and tight body could distract Finnegan Lane from his own funeral. I should just have told him I was leaving. I reached for my cell phone to text him that news flash, when a shadow fell over me.

“Why, Gin, what a lovely surprise,” a male voice murmured.

I looked up to find Owen Grayson standing in front of my booth. Like Finn, Grayson wore a rich suit, black in his case, with a charcoal gray shirt underneath. The fabric accentuated his compact, sturdy figure, which always reminded me of a dwarf’s stocky physique. But at six foot one, Grayson was far too tall to be a dwarf.

His glossy, blue-black hair gleamed under the club’s muted lights. So did his eyes, which were a light violet. A white, thin scar slashed down his chin. The faint mark would have ruined the look of another man’s face, but it added a hard, sexy, dangerous edge to Grayson’s features, giving him a roguish, rakish air. Or maybe that was just because I liked the rest of the package so much. Owen Grayson knew how to wear a suit very well, and I couldn’t help but speculate what lay beneath his designer duds. Somehow, I knew it would be as appealing as the rest of him.

Still, despite the slick, expensive threads, Grayson looked like the kind of guy who’d taken more than one punch in his time. A real fighter through and through. The strong, self-assured way he carried himself only made him more impressive to me. I’d always admired confidence—especially when the person actually had something to be confident about. Since Owen Grayson was one of the richest businessmen in Ashland, he had millions of reasons to smile.

I’d met Grayson a couple of weeks ago back in November. His younger sister, Eva, had been eating at the Pork Pit when Jake McAllister had tried to rob the restaurant. Grayson thought he owed me something since I’d saved Eva from getting dead.
“Hello, Owen,” I replied. “What brings you here tonight?”
He shrugged, his broad shoulders straining against the fabric of his suit. “Eva wanted to come dancing.”
My eyes flicked over to the dance floor. Sure enough, I spotted Eva Grayson grooving in between a guy and another girl. Eva had the same coloring that Owen did, which made her look like a real-life version of Snow White. Add her rocking figure on top of that, and Eva attracted plenty of attention. She whirled away from one guy to turn and smile at another waiting at the edge of the dance floor. Eva crooked her finger, and the young man eagerly stepped into the fray surrounding her.
I looked back at Owen. “And you came along to babysit her?”
“I like to watch out for her,” he rumbled in a low voice. “Besides, she said I needed a night out of the house. Evidently, running my various business interests and adding to her trust fund isn’t exciting enough for her tastes.”
I smiled. Like most college-age girls, Eva enjoyed flirting with the opposite sex. Dancing the night away at Northern Aggression would be right up her alley—even if big brother Owen would be watching her every move.
“Care if I join you?” Owen asked.
I shrugged. “Suit yourself.”
Grayson unbuttoned his jacket and settled on the opposite side of the booth so he was sitting across from me. He signaled one of the waiters and ordered an expensive scotch. I requested another gin on the rocks, with a twist of lime this time. Maybe that would cut the bitter taste in my mouth.
Our drinks came back, and I took a healthy pull off mine. Nope, still bitter. I sighed and rubbed my index finger down the side of the glass, leaving a trail in the condensation that had already formed there.
“Something the matter?” Grayson asked, taking a sip of his scotch.
I shrugged again. “Just not in the mood to party tonight, I suppose.”
Owen stared at me with his violet eyes. “Perhaps you and I could go somewhere else. Make our own party.”
“Let me guess where that party would end . . . your bedroom?”
Grayson smiled. “Actually, I was thinking the nearest hotel myself. Why drive that far?”
“Back to wanting to sleep with me again?”
Grayson’s smile widened. “I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a shot.”
Gin, thanks so much for taking the time to answer my inquisitive questions. I enjoyed the lunch and I had fabulous company!

Gin: Thanks for stopping by the Pork Pit. I’m glad you enjoyed your meal. Y’all come back now, ya hear? ;-)

You can find the muse of Gin, aka Jennifer Estep at:
Website - Twitter - Facebook

The Giveaway: Jennifer Estep has generously provided one copy of VENOM which is for US/Canada only. BUT since we at ROOB love this series so much we also have one luck commenter win his or her choice in a copy of the Elemental Assassin series; Spider's Bite - Web Of Lies or Venom. Our giveaway is international or where the Book Depository Store ships. So there are two chances to win a copy YAY

All you have to do is leave a comment and if you have a question for Gin or Jennifer, please feel free to ask !!


host said...

Very interesting post ;) Gin sounds like very interesting person; I am looking forward to reading more about her.

Jennifer Estep said...

Host -- Cool. Glad you enjoyed the post. ;-)

ruth said...

Hello Gin, How is the college life going for you?

Jennifer Estep said...

Ruth -- The college life is fine. Although as much as I like classical literature, I really wish we'd read something fun every once in a while. You know, a good romance or fantasy book ... ;-)

Barbara E. said...

I enjoyed Spider's Bite very much and I'm looking forward to reading the next two books in the series to find out what happens to Gin and her friends. I enjoyed the interview, it was fun to learn a little bit more about Gin.


Jennifer Estep said...

Barbara -- Thanks! Glad you liked the post.

donnas said...

Great interview. Love the series and looking forward to seeing what happens to Gin in Venom.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

Sheree said...

Gin, does your experience as an assassin insure better tips (because you can give them the eye)?


Blodeuedd said...

Wohoo, gotta love that you threw in one for us international peeps too :)
blodeuedd1 at gmail dot com

I just wonder if we are gonna see more of Finn, perhaps him getting a loveinterest, well a serious one ;)

Jennifer Estep said...

Donna -- Thanks! I hope you enjoy VENOM.

Sheree -- Unfortunately, not. Some people are just always going to be lousy tippers. Way of the world. If I took out everybody who ever gave me a lousy tip, well, let's just say that Sophia couldn't keep up with all the bodies.

Blodeuedd -- Don't worry. I have big, romantic plans for Finn in books 4 and 5. ;-)

Denny said...

This sounds like a great series ... where do you get your inspiration from ....

Thanks for the giveaway - brilliant!

Anonymous said...

Oh I love this series. How many books will be the series.

Aurian said...

Mm this sounds like a series to my heart! I love the concept, and your writing style.

Jennifer Estep said...

Denny -- I got my inspiration from a lot of places -- TV shows, movies, music, books, news stories, people that I see on the street, my own overactive imagination.

I always wonder what if -- what if a character did this instead of that? What if the villain won? Playing this kind of what-if game is a great way for me to brainstorm.

Rhyan -- Right now, there will be five books in the series. Books 4 and 5 will both be out in 2011. I hope to write more books in the series beyond these five, but that will depend on sales, of course. Anyway, I've got my fingers crossed!

Aurian -- Thanks! I appreciate that.

jmspettoli said...

Awesome interview! I love this series so much! Thanks Jennifer for providing such an awesome urban fantasy series with awesome characters (fan girl moment over... LOL).

spettolij AT gmail DOT com

Ashley said...

I would love to read this series!!

hewella1 at gmail dot com

M.A.D. said...

Mary D
zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot)com

Wonderful post & interview!!!!
Beautiful writing style, too - now I've GOT to read this series :D

Here's my Q
If you were to ever switch to a different genre [pretend you HAD to for some obscure reason lol] - what *other* genre holds appeal for you as a writer?

Jennifer Estep said...

JMS -- Cool. I'm glad you are enjoying the books so far. And there's nothing wrong with fangirl moments. I've had a few myself ...

Ashley -- Glad you think the books sound interesting.

MAD -- Thanks! I appreciate that. I've always loved old western movies, so I'd like to write a western some day. Or a fun crime caper, like the Ocean's Eleven movies.

JoAnna said...

I haven't read this series, but after reading this interview I'm adding it to my wish list!!
Thanks for the great interview.

Ina said...

fantastic interview - I loved Spider's Bite and the interview was a great extra!! thanks so much :)
now I can't wait to read on!
greetings, Ina

and many thanks to the ladies of ROOB for making the second give-away international *hugs*

throuthehaze said...

Great post! I love all the covers in this series and have heard good things about the books :)
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Jennifer Estep said...

JoAnna -- Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed reading a little about Gin.

Ina -- Thanks! I'm glad that you enjoyed the first book in the series.

Throuthehaze -- Thanks! I think the covers are pretty awesome too.

Leontine said...

We let random.org do its work and here are the winners:

Aurian - International
M.A.D - US/Canada only

I will contact you for addy details ;)

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